Ban animal testing (junior)

Animal research has been used for several centuries as part of efforts to better understand the world around us. More than 100,000,000 animals a year are used in animal testing, most of them put down once they are have been experimented on.[1]

The drugs industry spends a significant amount of time conducting research on animals. As few drugs go successfully from development to sale, over 5.75 million animals are used for each successful new drug. Chemical safety testing uses less animals, in some cases none at all, each using less than a thousand per chemical.

While most research is classed as causing little pain or suffering to the animals, in the USA in 2010 just short of 100,000 animals were used for experiments likely to cause pain or suffering with no use of painkillers or sedatives.

N.B. This is a junior version of the Debatabase debate ‘This house would ban animal testing’ for people who are in school. The original version has more explanation, detail, evidence and references. 

[for references see bibliography]

Title 
Animals shouldn’t be harmed
Point 

The difference between us and other animals is a matter of degree rather than type [2]. Their bodies resemble ours, as do their ways of conveying meaning. They recoil from pain, appear to express fear of a tormentor, and appear to take pleasure in activities; a point clear to anyone who has observed a pet dog on hearing the word “walk”.

We believe other people experience feelings like us because they are like us in appearance and behaviour. An animal sharing our anatomical, physiological, and behavioural characteristics is surely likely to have feelings like us.

If people have a right to not be harmed, we must ask ourselves what makes animals different? If animals feel what we feel, and suffer like us, to condemn one to testing because of them being of a different species is similar to racism or sexism.[3]

Counterpoint 

The right of a human not to be harmed is based not on appearance but on not harming others. Animals don’t participate in this.

Animals won’t stop hunting because of the pain and feelings of other animals. Even if animal testing were to be abolished people would still eat meat, and kill animals for other less worthwhile reasons than animal testing.

Title 
Animal research causes severe harm to the animals involved
Point 

The point of animal research is that animals are harmed. Even if they don’t suffer in the experiment, almost all are killed afterwards. With 115 million animals used a year this is a big problem. Releasing medical research animals in to the wild would be dangerous for them, and they would not be usable as pets. [4]. The only solution is that they are wild from birth.

It is obvious that it’s not in the interest of animals to be killed or harmed. Research should be banned in order to prevent the deaths of millions of animals.

Counterpoint 

What then is the interest of the animal? If releasing these animals into the wild would kill them then surely it is humane to put them down after the experiment. It must also be remembered that the interest of the animal is not the main and is outweighed by the benefits to humans. [5]

Title 
It isn’t necessary
Point 

We don’t know how we will be able to develop new drugs without animal testing until we end it. We now know how most chemicals work, and computer simulations of chemicals are very good.[6] Experimenting on tissue can show how drugs work, without the need for actual animals. Even skin left over from surgery can be experiment on, and being human, is more useful.

The fact that animal research was needed in the past isn’t a good excuse any more. We still have all the advancements from animal testing in the past, but it’s no longer needed. [7]

Counterpoint 

The laws that restrict animal testing only allow it where it’s needed.

Animal testing isn’t cheap, meaning that if universities and the drug industry have a good reason to end it if they can. If we ban animal testing we won’t know what it would be able to do in the future. Animal research now has better results than other ways of doing research. [8]

Title 
Most animals can suffer more than some people
Point 

It’s possible to think of people that can’t suffer, like those in a persistent vegetative state, or with significant intellectual disabilities.

We could go for one of three options. Either we could experiment on animals, but not such people, which is morally not consistent. We could allow both, but do we want to do painful medical research on the disabled? Or, we could do neither.[9]

Counterpoint 

The decision to test is not based upon the capacity to suffer. But it should be remembered that the individual being tested would not be the only one who suffers, for the intellectually disabled we must remember their families would suffer as well. 

Title 
It would send out a consistent message
Point 

Most countries have animal welfare laws to prevent animal cruelty but have laws like the UK’s Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, [10] that stop animal testing being a crime. This makes means some people can do things to animals, but not others. If the government are serious about animal abuse, why allow anyone to do it?

Counterpoint 

There is a moral difference between harm for the sake of harming an animal and harm in order to save lives. Lifesaving drugs is a very different purpose to betting or enjoyment that animal welfare laws are aimed at. 

Title 
Animals don’t have human rights
Point 

Humans have large brains, form social groups, communicate and are generally worthy of moral consideration. We also are aware of ourselves and of the nature of death. Some animals have some of these characteristics but not all so should not have the same rights. In harming animals to benefit humans, we enter in to a good moral trade-off to create a greater good. [11]

Counterpoint 

To argue that “the ends justify the means” isn’t enough. We don’t know how much animals suffer, as they can’t talk to us. We therefore don’t know how aware they are of themselves. In order to stop a moral harm on animals we don’t understand, we shouldn’t do animal testing.

Even if it were a “net gain” because of the results, by that logic human experimentation could be justified. Common morality says that isn’t OK, as people shouldn’t be used to a means to an end. [12]

Title 
People will die if we don’t do animal testing
Point 

Every year, 23 new drugs are introduced in the UK alone.[13] Almost all will be tested on animals. A new drug will be used for a long time. Think of all the people saved by the use of penicillin. If drugs cost more to test, that means drug companies will develop less. This means more people suffering and dying

Counterpoint 

Many of these drugs are “me too” drugs – ones with a slight change that doesn’t make much difference to an existing drug. [14] So often the benefits from animal testing are marginal, and even if there was a slight increase in human suffering, it would be worth it based on the animal suffering saved.

Title 
Testing is needed for really new drugs
Point 

The real benefit of animal testing is making totally new drugs, which is about a quarter of them. After non-animal and then animal tests, it will be tested on humans. The reason why the risk is low (but not non-existent) for these brave volunteers, is because of the animal tests.

These new chemicals are the ones most likely to produce improvements to people’s lives, because they are new. You couldn’t do research on these new drugs without either animal testing or putting humans at a much higher risk.

Counterpoint 

When a drug is first tested on human volunteers, they are only given a tiny fraction of the amount shown safe to give to primates showing there is another way, to start with very low doses. Animal research isn’t a reliable indicator of how a drug will work in people – even with animal testing, some drugs trials go very wrong [15].

Title 
Animal research is only used when it’s needed
Point 

EU member states and the US have laws to stop animals being used for research if there is any alternative. The 3Rs principles are commonly used. Animal testing is being Refined for better results and less suffering, Replaced, and Reduced in terms of the number of animals used. This means that less animals have to suffer, and the research is better.

Counterpoint 

Not every country has laws like the EU or the US. In countries with low welfare standards animal testing is a more attractive option. Animal researchers tend to only do animal research so don’t know about the alternatives. As a result they will use animal testing unnecessarily not as just a last resort.

Title 
Research animals are well treated
Point 

Animals used in research generally don’t suffer.  While they may be in pain, they are generally given pain killers, and when they are put down this is done humanely. [16] They are looked after, as healthy animals mean better experimental results. These animals live better lives than they would in the wild.

As long as animals are treated well there shouldn’t be a moral objection to animal research. This is exactly the same as with raising animals that will be used for meat.

Counterpoint 

Just because an animal is treated well as it is brought up doesn’t stop the very real suffering during testing. Stricter rules and painkillers don’t help as the lack of suffering cannot be guaranteed – if we knew what would happen, we wouldn’t do the experiment.

Bibliography 

[1] Collins, Francis S., ‘Animal Experiments: Overview’, PeTA, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-experiments-overview.aspx

[2] Clark, S., The Nature of the Beast: are animals moral?, (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1982)

[3] Singer, P., “All Animals are Equal”, in La Follette (ed.), Ethics in Practice, (Malden, Mass; Oxford : Blackwell Pub, 2007)

[4] European Commission, 1997. Euthanasia of experimental animals. Luxembourg: Office for official publications

[5] Frey, R. G., “Moral Standing: The Value of Life and Specieism”, in La Follette (ed.), Ethics in Practice, (Malden, Mass; Oxford : Blackwell Pub, 2007)

[6] Dvorsky, George, ‘Can technology help us put an end to animal experimentation?’, io9, 5 September 2012, http://io9.com/5940566/can-technology-help-us-put-an-end-to-animal-experimentation

[7] PETA. ‘Alternatives: Testing Without Torture’. 2011, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/alternatives-testing-without-torture.aspx

[8] Ator, N. A., “Conducting Behavioural Research”, in Akins, C. Panicker, S. & Cunningham, C. L (eds.), Laboratory animals in research and teaching: Ethics, care and methods, (Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, 2005, Ch. 3.

[9] Fox, M. A., “The Moral Community”, in La Follette (ed.), Ethics in Practice, (Malden, Mass; Oxford : Blackwell Pub, 2007)

[10] ‘Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986’, legislation.gov.uk, 1986, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/14/contents

[11] Frey, R. G., “Moral Standing: The Value of Life and Speciesism”, in La Follette (ed.), Ethics in Practice, (Malden, Mass; Oxford : Blackwell Pub, 2007)

[12] Wikipedia, ‘Trolley Problem’, accessed 12 November 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

[13] BBC News. 2013. Falling drug breakthroughs 'a myth'. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21519901

[14] Stanford Medical Magazine. 2005. Me-too drugs: Sometimes They’re Just The Same Old, Same Old. http://stanmed.stanford.edu/2005summer/drugs-metoo.html

[15] Roxby, Philippa, ‘Northwick Park drug trial disaster – could it happen again?’, BBC News, 24 May 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22556736

[16] Herzog, H., “Dealing With the Animal Research Controversy”, in Akins, C. Panicker, S. & Cunningham, C. L (eds.), Laboratory animals in research and teaching: Ethics, care and methods, (Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, 2005), Ch. 1., http://psycnet.apa.org/books/10830/

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